Pathfinders Design + Technology

Pathfinders Design + Technology

Working hydraulic models, very cool bridges, models of Leonardo da Vinci’s machines, and wicked cool automatas….how cool is that!

Perhaps because we spend most of our time writing and publishing books on scale modeling and miniatures, it probably comes as no surprise that we would find the wooden mechanical kits from Pathfinder, from British Columbia, Canada,  to be extraordinary.

  • They are beautifully designed;
  • They come with detailed instructions that are clear and easy to follow;
  • The kits include everything you will need to build the model (including glue and sandpaper);
  • The parts are die-cut and easy to punch out;
  • The kits provide an excellent modeling challenge to both advanced beginner and intermediate modelers (and a couple of them probably are more suited to advanced intermediate modelers);
  • They are the ideal project for the parent or grandparent & tween or teen. We do not recommend them for children much under the age of 10 (although if they can talk grandma or grandpa into helping…they should do just fine.
  • Our kit testing team (James & Ezra–our Thursday Volunteer Crew–put together the Swing Bridge and are working on da Vinci’s Tank–our comments above are based on their experience).

The models are made from Forest Stewardship Council wood and are unfinished. We highly recommend that you pick up a set of colored pens when you buy your kit or kits to decorate your models, although you can also use a variety of other materials as well, including colored papers, colored pencils, paints, fabric…in short, you name it. You can be as creative as you like in designing the final product.

Pathfinders Design is one of three wooden mechanical kit companies we carry in the shop (Mechanical Kits from Texas and Timberkits from Wales)–from our point of view, they are the coolest things going, well worth the cost, and a great way to introduce modeling.

One side comment about the designer, Derek Wolfe–he builds the full-sized da Vinci models for museum…that is just wicked cool!

Leonard da Vinci’s Machines

We have long had a standing rule about carrying toy weapons–we don’t, but we have  two exceptions: the trebuchet kit (a 12th century siege machine invented by the Chinese in the 4th Century BC) from Keva Planks and anything designed by da Vinci.


Working Bridges

The bridges are sturdy enough to be used with wooden cars and trains, although we recommend additional wood glue along the inside edges between the tabs to add additional strength. Be sure to keep a damp (not wet) rag nearby to wipe off any excess glue. Glue spots make it difficult to provide an even finish after you have finished construction. You may find it easier to pre-stain, paint, or other wise decorate your model before you put it together–if so, be sure not to get the wood overly wet–as with most wooden models, it could cause some warping of the model components.  If you are using stain, put the stain on, wipe it off, and then repeat the process…stain works better if you use multiple light coats.  We do not recommend using a varnish (spray or otherwise) on the models after construction. The varnish can gum up the mechanisms.


Wooden Hydraulic Models

These are just simply cool! We haven’t tried one of these models yet, but they are on our list for the next week (probably the Gearbot). We’ll add in notes after we’ve tried them out, but based on the other models we have tried, we expect these to produce splendid results.


Other Cool Models

When I first started looking at bringing in wooden mechanical models, I was looking for a “flying pig” (a standing joke in planning is that plans get fully and reasonably implemented when pigs fly) and a dragon because of a request by one of our customers who is budding Harry Potter fan.  We are fond of automatas, having played with paper versions for years. We thought a few wooden versions would be an excellent idea.  The final model (Youtopia) listed below is, from a creative standpoint, the coolest of all of them because it allows the builder to create an animated diorama (it is on my modeling list for Christmas Day).



And An Interesting Video (Learn more about the company)















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